Photo courtesy J.J. Keller

Photo courtesy J.J. Keller

Many fleets, especially smaller ones, have resisted implementing electronic logs to monitor driver hours of service. Some appear to plan to wait until the last possible moment before this year's Dec. 17 federal deadline for the mandated industry conversion to electronic logging devices.

While researching the March cover story on what fleets need to know before that ELD deadline, I asked Tom Bray, who works for safety supplier and advisor J.J. Keller & Associates, what common myths and misconceptions fleets have about ELDs and electronic logs in general.

Granted, J.J. Keller does happen to offer an ELD for sale, so you might make the argument that Bray is biased. But Tom's no sales guy. He's a senior editor who's been with the company since 2005. A sought-after speaker, with an extensive background that includes years of experience in DOT compliance, driver training, CDL testing and more, Bray is a source I've found over the years to be quite knowledgeable about the real-world workings of fleet safety and compliance. So I thought I'd share his top ELD "myths":

1. "ELDs cost thousands and thousands of dollars, require hours upon hours to install, and require extensive computer skills."

In fact, there are systems available now that are reasonably priced and straightforward to install and use.

2. "Switching to an electronic log will ruin my company."

The only way this is true is if you are currently over-dispatching your drivers and you are relying on the additional income to remain viable, Bray says. Yes, ELDs will require companies to make some changes in scheduling, work more closely with customers on scheduling, shuttling drivers that have hours available to finish trips for drivers that don't have hours, relaying loads that have a tight timeline, reworking schedules, etc. – to operate compliantly.

3. "I’ll lose all my drivers."

If the change is managed correctly, fleets normally do not lose many drivers, if any. The ones that are lost are the "high-risk" drivers, who were not going to operate compliantly whether you were using paper logs or electronic logs. And at many fleets, wiithin a month or so, drivers who are using electronic logs will complain if they have to get into a vehicle without e-logs and go back to paper.

"Installing electronic logs does not mean that you can lay off half of your safety department."

4. "No one will have to look at the electronic logs — the system checks and tracks everything."

While it is true that a good system will do an automatic audit on the incoming records and point out all violations, you will still need people to review the violations, decide if there was an exception the driver was using that created a "false" violation, and counsel and correct drivers that are receiving violations.

5. "Drivers cannot cheat when using an electronic log."

In fact, Bray says there are a lot of ways drivers can cheat on electronic logs, such as not logging in when required, logging out early, driving below the speed threshold to save driving time or delay the system switching to driving, using another driver's credentials, wrongly switching on-duty time to off-duty during an edit, and logging on-duty time as off-duty time, to just name a few.

“All of these are visible in the back office, if someone is looking. In other words, installing electronic logs does not mean that you can lay off half of your safety department. They will still be needed; it is just that their jobs will change.”

Author

Deborah Lockridge
Deborah Lockridge

Deborah Lockridge

All That's Trucking blog is just that – the editor's take on anything and everything related to trucking, with the help of guest posts from other HDT editors. Author Deborah Lockridge's career as an award-winning trucking journalist started in 1990.

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All That's Trucking blog is just that – the editor's take on anything and everything related to trucking, with the help of guest posts from other HDT editors. Author Deborah Lockridge's career as an award-winning trucking journalist started in 1990.

View Bio
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